[MUD-Dev] Re: [DGN] Balancing Melee vs Ranged Combat in Games Which Model Space

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Thu Apr 5 15:33:50 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Wednesday, April 04, 2001, 4:24:40 AM, Ananda Dawnsinger
<ananda at winterreach.com> wrote:

[snip lots of stuff I agree with]

> Here's the basic idea I'm thinking of proposing.  Since combat
> mechanics aren't my strongest suit, feel free to point out glaring
> fallacies or potential for abuse.

I'd just like to point out a couple of things in here, and make a
couple of additional points on differences.

>   Traditional bows and arrows:

>     Arrows do not pierce metal armor except on a critical strike.

I'd narrow this to good-quality mail or better metal armor, if I
wanted to keep it simple.  See the section on crossbows for how to
complicate it.

>     Arrows have a reasonably high potential for critical strikes
>     (again, perhaps equivalent to dagger).

>     Aiming significantly increases the chance for critical strikes,
>     but imposes a long RT (30 sec?) during which the archer is
>     vulnerable.

>     Critical strikes have the potential for massive damage,
>     including one-shot cripples and kills on game-sized creatures.
>     (I don't particularly believe in one-shot kills on player
>     characters.)

These are nice guidelines for a simple system; see below for ideas on
a more complex one.

>   Crossbows and bolts:

>     Bolts do a reasonably high base damage (equivalent to
>     longsword?)

Ig.  I wouldn't put them nearly that high; in fact, I'd give them the
same sort of damage value as an arrow.  See below for more.

>     Bolts are fast to shoot, but very slow to load.  Increased skill
>     does not speed up the loading process.

Increased strength, however, might speed it up.  If characters can
have superhuman strength, they might even be able to cock a heavy
crossbow quickly.

>     Bolts have the potential to pierce metal armor, including heavy
>     plate, even on an ordinary strike.

For a more complex system, it might be a good idea to separate
penetration and damage values for weapons.  A heavy crossbow will have
much higher penetration ability than a bow, but the maximum damage it
can inflict isn't greater -- a half-inch hole all the way through your
body is a half-inch hole all the way through your body (well, barring
the possibility of hydrostatic shock, but there's disagreement in the
ballistics community over it, and, in any case, a crossbow doesn't
have enough force to cause significant hydrostatic shock).

Alternatively, or possibly in conjunction, you might want to use a
blowthrough rule -- namely, that there's a maximum amount of damage
that can be done with one hit, and any damage above that maximum is
lost.  If you want to get really complex, you can have the possibility
that a shot that blows through can hit something else further along
its path.

>     Crossbows are not as accurate as traditional bows -- they have a
>     lower potential for critical strikes, and aiming has less
>     effect.

One important distinction is in the mode of firing.  Crossbows,
especially heavy crossbows, tend to be direct fire weapons -- you aim
directly at the target and loose the bolt.  Bows are direct fire at
short distances, but indirect fire at long distances -- meaning that
you aim above your target to allow for the fact that the arrow will
arc in its path.

That's what makes a crossbow so much easier for an inexperienced
shooter -- it's literally a point-and-shoot weapon.  Shooting a bow
requires learning how far above your target you have to aim for a
given distance (actually, at very short distances, you have to aim
below your target, but that's another story).

This distinction can become very important in some situations.  For
example, in a dungeon environment with ten-foot ceilings, a bow's
range becomes very restricted compared to that of a crossbow.  On the
other hand, if you're outdoors, an experienced bowman will easily be
able to fire over a nearby group of friendly troops into a distant
enemy group, while a crossbowman will not.

On aiming, a graphical game might be able to use a system like that of
the paper RPG Millenium's End.  That game uses a set of clear plastic
overlays for ranged weapons.  The shooter places the overlay on a
shillouette of his/her target to indicate the point being aimed at,
then makes a skill roll to try to hit.  The difficulty of the shot
(based on range, how the target is dodging, wind, and other factors)
is then subtracted from the roll.  The overlay has a set of points,
each marked with numbers; the difference between the roll and the
difficulty determines which of those points is the actual spot hit --
which, with the shillouette of the target, determines where the target
was hit.

This allows the player to choose where to aim, while still keeping the
results at least partially dependent on character skill.

>     Critical strikes are appropriately brutal.

>     You cannot keep loaded crossbows in your backpack.

I don't think these last two are distinctions, really -- critical
strikes should be "appropriately brutal" for all weapons, and you
can't keep a loaded bow in your backpack either.

> There are other things that affect archery -- some of which are
> already part of the combat system as it stands -- but that's the
> general way I'd like to see archery work.

> (I guess this is what happens when you play a forester as your
> primary character for three years...)

Yep... ranger is my second-favorite xD&D class, myself...

       |\      _,,,---,,_    Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
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